While the game will never win marks in the overall scheme of things in terms of hockey entertainment, for Canadiens fans, it will do just fine. Tonight, in
As is typical of a game involving the Devils, the game was dominated by the trap, and for long stretches, while there were no whistles, there was also little in the way of entertaining play. The first period was basically a continuation of the third back in
In the second, there were a few lapses in the trap which allowed both clubs to sustain somewhat better attacks. Mike Ribeiro and Alex Kovalev were two that tried to set the tone early in the period and while they didn’t create any huge scoring opportunities, they at least controlled the play somewhat.
The Canadien who made the largest impact early in the second – and indeed throughout most of the rest of the game, was Michael Ryder who plays less and less like a rookie and more and more like a seasoned veteran. After pulling a puck from a scrum along the boards, Ryder used a Devil defenseman as a screen and flicked a brilliant shot high on the glove side to set the Habs up by one.
Later in the period, the Devils had a wonderful opportunity in front of the
The third started with a bang for the Canadiens as Ryder once again made a strong play and fired a low shot on goal after sneaking by Scott Niedermeyer. The shot beat Brodeur and on the way in struck the stick of Jim Dowd as insurance thereby giving the Habs a 2-0 lead on the attack-challenged Devils.
Unfortunately, during a power play situation, Sheldon Souray, in only his second game back after missing a fair amount of time with a knee injury, struggled with a puck at the blueline and none other than John Madden sped away on a partial break. Theodore would surely like to have the subsequent shot back as it came from behind the circle from a poor angle, yet still beat him to allow the Devils to within one.
Ryder again had a chance soon after as he was sent in on his own partial break, however his shot whistled just wide. Patrick Elias had his own break on a brilliant Niedermeyer pass and, with the save of the night, Theodore allowed the Habs to maintain their lead heading into the closing stages.
The Canadiens looked to have closed the deal when Kovalev, with his first as a Hab, fired one into an open net. His enthusiasm led him to a series of simulated high-fives with fans behind the glass – a wonderful show and a pleasure for Hab fans.
It was not to be the end, however, as in the next few moments, Niklas Sundstrom accidentally high-sticked an opponent thereby giving the Devils the chance to play with two extra men for the remainder of regulation time. Sergei Brylin wasted little time when he took a pass in the slot and buried it to once again bring the Devils to within one.
It was the end of the charge, however, as the Canadiens successfully killed off the rest of the clock and brought home the victory. Three out of four points against the Devils this weekend should prove beyond a doubt that the Habs are in it until the end. They will now benefit from a fair break as they don’t play until next Wednesday, and that will allow them to heal and rest for the final stretch.